Category Archives: Action

Fire and Food (The Ghear)

The sounds of the night filled Reilly’s ears, darkness closing in around him. The sun had set, the last vestiges of natural night disappearing. They had managed to set up a fire; a man had saved a packet of matches, luckily, the light creating shadows that danced across the nearby lake. He had set up a watch system, but Reilly planned to stay up all night anyway. He saw shadows prowling around the edges of the light, much smaller than the monstrous Saber he had killed early today, but he could tell by the way the moved, that they wouldn’t mess around if they caught him. They would kill efficiently, and with ease.

Reilly prayed to whatever lived up there, whatever they called God on this planet. Nothing had bothered the camp during the night, none of the horrific creatures daring to breach the barrier that the fire had formed. Now the challenges of surviving through the day presented themselves. He had to find not food just for one, which would be an unenviable task in itself, but for a group of thirty. They had to figure out a way to make a more permanent house. Trees were all around him, but they had few tools, only a dozen or so pick axes from the mines, and Reilly’s seemingly eternally sharp knife from the Ghear. Water, luckily, was no issue, with the lake at their side. One less challenge, he thought to himself, but there was still plenty to do.

He set the men with pick axes to bring down some of the smaller trees, and if they couldn’t lug it over, to chop it into parts in order to allow them to carry them. If they still couldn’t do so, then they were to simply chop it up into firewood. Made for smashing their way through earth and rock, the pick axes were far from ideal for tree chopping, but like the sword that Reilly wore around his waist, were sharp, and very strong. The people with him were strong too. It sounded terrible to say, but the mines had weeded out the weak. All these people were fit, able to work. As such, they kept a good pace bringing down the trees. It was tough work, no doubt, but was absolutely necessary.

*     *     *

He followed the herd of Brachiosaur as they strode across the plain. He stalked silently through the tall grass, the monstrous herbivores immune to his presence. And rightly so. He was no threat to the creatures, but he was interested in ones the size of ostriches. With long necks and larges eyes, they were like the antelope of this world. They were bipedal, and moved with immense speed. The only way Reilly would ever catch them was through surprise, catching them off guard and as the dumb creatures tried to flee, cutting their throats. The creatures were so big that they could feed the troop for at least two days, and they would be eating well. He crouched lower, preparing his sword. One had split from the herd, stopping to graze. Reilly swore it would be his last action, as he leapt to his feet.

Reilly’s legs pumped underneath him, quickly traversing through the long grass. A bellow echoed through the air, the larger Brachiosaurs having spotted him. He didn’t care; his eyes were completely focussed upon the frightened looking Runner, alarmed by the Brachiosaurs braying. It was isolated from the herd, an easy target. It started to run, but Reilly was already on its back, tearing at it with the ever-sharp knife of the Ghear. With a ferocity that surprised himself, he brought the once majestic creature down, dead. He roared in delight. Food.

They had managed to keep the fire going. There was always someone stationed at it, always somebody to add more firewood. They only had limited matches, and they had no other way to start a  fire. Therefore, the fire was always blazing. Reilly arrived home a hero, dragging the beast behind him. The men had been surprisingly efficient, with the camp surrounded by large logs, at least offering them some protection

The sounds of the night filled Reilly’s ears, darkness closing in around him. The sun had set, the last vestiges of natural night disappearing. They had managed to set up a fire; a man had saved a packet of matches, luckily, the light creating shadows that danced across the nearby lake. He had set up a watch system, but Reilly planned to stay up all night anyway. A tall, muscled black man, who went by the name Frank Jones, was ex-Marine and his official second in charge. He saw shadows prowling around the edges of the light, much smaller than the monstrous Saber he had killed early today, but he could tell by the way the moved, that they wouldn’t mess around if they caught him. They would kill efficiently, and with ease.

Reilly prayed to whatever lived up there, whatever they called God on this planet. Nothing had bothered the camp during the night, none of the horrific creatures daring to breach the barrier that the fire had formed. Now the challenges of surviving through the day presented themselves. He had to find not food just for one, which would be an unenviable task in itself, but for a group of thirty. They had to figure out a way to make a more permanent house. Trees were all around him, but they had few tools, only a dozen or so pick axes from the mines, and Reilly’s seemingly eternally sharp knife from the Ghear. Water, luckily, was no issue, with the lake at their side. One less challenge, he thought to himself, but there was still plenty to do.

He set the men with pick axes to bring down some of the smaller trees, and if they couldn’t lug it over, to chop it into parts in order to allow them to carry them. If they still couldn’t do so, then they were to simply chop it up into firewood. Made for smashing their way through earth and rock, the pick axes were far from ideal for tree chopping, but like the sword that Reilly wore around his waist, were sharp, and very strong. The people with him were strong too. It sounded terrible to say, but the mines had weeded out the weak. All these people were fit, able to work. As such, they kept a good pace bringing down the trees. It was tough work, no doubt, but was absolutely necessary.

*     *     *

He followed the herd of Brachiosaur as they strode across the plain. He stalked silently through the tall grass, the monstrous herbivores immune to his presence. And rightly so. He was no threat to the creatures, but he was interested in ones the size of ostriches. With long necks and larges eyes, they were like the antelope of this world. They were bipedal, and moved with immense speed. The only way Reilly would ever catch them was through surprise, catching them off guard and as the dumb creatures tried to flee, cutting their throats. The creatures were so big that they could feed the troop for at least two days, and they would be eating well. He crouched lower, preparing his sword. One had split from the herd, stopping to graze. Reilly swore it would be his last action, as he leapt to his feet.

Reilly’s legs pumped underneath him, quickly traversing through the long grass. A bellow echoed through the air, the larger Brachiosaurs having spotted him. He didn’t care; his eyes were completely focussed upon the frightened looking Runner, alarmed by the Brachiosaurs braying. It was isolated from the herd, an easy target. It started to run, but Reilly was already on its back, tearing at it with the ever-sharp knife of the Ghear. With a ferocity that surprised himself, he brought the once majestic creature down, dead. He roared in delight. Food.

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Surviving

The foliage closed around him, dampening the noise around him. Despite being surrounded by people, he felt like there was literally nobody near him. Sounds of the jungle filled his ears, sounds he had never heard before. Relief flooded over him as the group burst through into a wide open field, a lake in its centre. However, this relief was soon replaced with terror as a primal bellow burst forth out of the undergrowth.

The ground shook beneath Reilly’s feet as a monstrous creature burst forth from the undergrowth. Rippling with muscles, its fur covered body shuddering with every stride, claws fully unsheathed. It roared once more, its feline mouth revealing full set of terrifying teeth. Reilly set his shoulders as he stared into the creatures yellow eyes, the terrifying eyes staring back at him. He bounced the sword in his hand, and as the ferocious creature reached him, stepped aside. He swung the sword down with a roar, the sound coming from deep within him, seemingly unsolicited. He cut the lion like creature deep, eliciting a howl of pain as the weapon tore through the beast’s flesh. It tumbled to the ground, its forward left paw dangling limply. The ligaments and such essential for its movement were severed by Reilly’s blade. It stumbled around on the ground, kicking up dust as it tried to get to its feet. However, Reilly wouldn’t allow this to happen, and with a tremendous stab, drove his sword deep into the beast’s heart. A cheer rose up behind him. He wasn’t just a leader. He was now a hero.

Once again the ground beneath him began to rumble. Reilly prepared himself to fight once more, his lip turning into a snarl. But this time, it was something much less threatening, as Reilly gasped at what came into view. A herd of brachiosaur like creatures were plodding past, their heads high above the canopy, heading towards the lake near the centre of the vast opening. Smaller creatures ran about their legs, some as small as a chickens, but instead of feathers, were covered in fur. Night was closing in around him, as his stomach began to rumble. ‘Food’. ‘We need food’, he thought ‘as well as water’.

They reached the lakeside before true nightfall, the sun-like object still sending light over the horizon. He was worried how they would survive through the night, with minimal shelter and no light. They had gotten lucky though, as some had been able to catch some of the smaller creatures that had been scuttling around the feet of the larger brachiosaurs. Some irked at the thought of eating raw meat, but that quickly dispersed when the realised how hungry they were, the Ghear having rarely fed them whilst down the mines. Reilly was beginning to realise the extremity of his situation. He was on an alien planet, with no ‘back up’, no way even out of here. He had little shelter, little light. Luck had presented them with water and food, but one knows not to trust luck. And night was about to set in. He hoped the worst wasn’t yet to come

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The Jungles of Kazaldor (The Ghear continued..)

“MOVE FASTER MAGGOTS, WE NEED TO BE AT LEAST THIRTY METRES DEEPER BY THE NEXT CYCLE” Gharthor bellowed at the weakling humans. “IT’S YOUR HEADS ON THE LINE IF WE DON’T!” Reilly swore under his breath as he wiped the sweat from his brow. His body was screaming for a rest, almost unable to take any more punishment. His arms ached as he swung the pick axe back down again, the impact sending shocks through his already weakened arms.  He fell to his knees, nearing complete exhaustion. “GET BACK ON YOUR FEET YOU MEWLING MORSEL” the brute roared. A scaled hand reached down to grab Reilly by the neck. Without even thinking, almost completely reactively, Reilly heaved the pick axe around, striking the reptile clean in the neck, the sharp pick embedding itself deep inside the scaled neck.

The mines burst into action. Whilst the Ghear were physically superior to the humans, in the tight mine shafts they struggled to swing there weapons around to full effect. However, those they did hit were instantly killed; their body’s broken by the immense swords of the Ghear. But numbers were on the miner’s side, and they soon overwhelmed their guardians, their reptilian faces pockmarked with holes from the picks. Reilly panted heavily, his actions fully fuelled by adrenalin now.  He turned around to see similarly weary faces, some still holding bloody pick axes. Reilly bent down next to a dead lizard, and yanked the dagger out of the sheath. A much more fearsome weapon then his battered pick axe, he grabbed the sheath as well. At least the size of a sword in human hands, it certainly showed the sheer size of the beings. Hefting the weapon on his back, he trudged up towards the exit of the mine. Instinctively, the others followed him. Without even realising, James Reilly had become a leader.

Light shined into his eyes, something he hadn’t seen for over a week, its rays enriching his light deprived skin. Nigh on immeasurably tall trees were around him, the sounds of the jungle filling his ears. He had no idea what was out there, what residing amongst that dense foliage. He had limited skills, limited physical prowess and no knowledge whatsoever about this foreign landscape. He had no idea if he could survive out there. He turned to see the mass of people. He had no idea if we could survive out there. He hoisted his weapons, called for those who wanted to come to follow him, and took his first step into the jungle of Kazaldor.

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The Ghear

The street bustled around him, simply enveloping him as one of them. He was no different on the outside, identical to any of the other blank faces that filled the street. He was a man marred by his history, he had betrayed those he had loved, he had given in to his desires. Although he knew he could never fix completely that which he had broken, he yearned for a way to redeem his name

James Reilly swore under his breath as he looked at his watch, realising he was running late for his interview. Surrounded by people, he still felt completely alone. He needed this job, without it he would have absolutely no way to support himself, and would have to bend his pride to ask for assistance in order to survive. That was something he did not want to do.

Reilly reached the door of the office with barely anytime to spare. He straightened his tie, and flattened his hair before knocking on the door firmly. The face of Dr Hugh Farth greeted him. He looked far from impressed. ‘Late Reilly, late. Get in here and take a seat, and try and convince me I need you in my company’. Reilly glanced at his watch. He didn’t even think to tell Farth that it was 11.58, and his interview was booked in for 12.00. He levelled his shoulders, and walked into Farth’s office.

‘You love to test me don’t you Reilly? Tell me, why do I need you in my company, what do you have to offer?’ Farth growled. ‘Well, I believe that…’ The floor rumbled beneath Reilly’s feet. ‘What the hell is that?’ Farth rumbled. Reilly looked out the window, and had to stop himself for crawling underneath the desk. Metallic pods slammed into the Earth, hundreds of them peppering the ground around him. Farth looked out, and said almost nonchalantly:  ‘They’ve arrived’

Reilly heard a bestial roar as the door was shattered before his eyes. A hulking armoured lizard man rumbled into the office, holding a horrific looking sword. ‘Follow. Now’ he said in a guttural rendition of the English language. ‘Or die’. Not given much choice, Reilly and Farth followed the terrifying alien out of the room, and down on to the street. Reilly was surprised that he was able to hold himself together.

The brute lead Farth and Reilly outside the building, and pushed them into line along with hundreds of other civilians. Any who tried to resist were killed mercilessly, and thrown to the side, without a degree of emotion. The aliens didn’t even notice, continuing to march onwards, towards a looming spacecraft that had landed in the large park at the centre of the city. Storm clouds began to gather. Earth was under siege. All across the planet, similar situations were taking place-Earths people were being taken hostage.

*         *         *

Reilly was terrified. He had never felt fear quite like this. Farth had already given up. He was curled up in the corner of the cell, quite literally having given up on the world, and on life. Yet Reilly felt no such desire. He for one wanted to keep hold onto life for as long as possible, it was not something he was willing to give up. He had thought Farth to be a hard man, one who would not collapse under such pressures. Yet he had. Whilst fear filled Reilly’s heart, this seemed to only make him cling to life more tightly.

Every morning the lizard men patrolled the corridors, looking for those who had passed through the night. Without fail, there were some carted past Reilly’s cell every morning by these aliens, the Ghear as Reilly overheard one man.  Yet, after a couple of nights, there were no more bodies. Only the strongest remained. And Reilly, the man who had been close to having no job, no one in his life, was amongst them.

*         *         *

They reached the Ghear’s planet as the sky was dark outside. A humid, tropical planet, it was as a close a replica to Earth in the galaxy as possible. Large trees covered its surface, the brutal Ghear paling in comparison to the other inhabitants of the planet Kazaldor. The Ghear needed slave labour to help mine a precious mineral out of the earth, so they set out to find sentient beings to fulfil such a role. A man kind was the first they found

*         *         *

Reilly stretched his shoulders, coughing as he inhaled dust from the air around him. He had been down the mine for over a week now. Farth had died yesterday, his body taken away by the Ghear. Reilly was surprised that on the very basic level he had survived, that his body had even made it this far. Something deep within him allowed him to keep fighting, and Reilly suspected that his tremendous pride, although coming close to being broken at times during his lifetime, kept him alive. And although he had first doubted that he would get this far, he now had no doubt of one thing-he would fight on.

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Hycane Invaded: Reloaded

On the surface, all appeared safe, the same as it had been for many a generation. Little did the citizens of Hycane know that a terrifying new threat to their world was about to spring forth and bring darkness to the once peaceful planet

 

*     *      *

 

James Reilly rolled his aching shoulders, adjusted his position in his seat. The Harvester-‘bot continued to whirr constantly, but Reilly had grown used to its droning. A monstrous contraption, the Harvester-‘bot was one of the few true innovations to come from Hycane, an otherwise unimportant farm world in the universe. It was designed to allow for quicker, better harvests and was equipped with two sharp scythes that cleanly cut through wheat at a phenomenal speed. A myriad of other arms packed the wheat into bundles, leaving a trail of bales behind it. Reilly piloted the robot with ease, each motion fluidly blending into the next. Despite this, Reilly knew he would still be here for hours, hacking his way through acres of wheat.

*     *      *

The house was a blur as Lily Reilly threw belongings in cupboards, pillows on couches, before running back to the over to check on dinner. James’ uncle was coming over, a famous inter-planetary officer, who had earned many an accolade. James’ uncle Scott Reilly would arrive in less than an hour, probably before James arrived back from the field. Lily ran to the door as a heavy knocking sound echoed throughout the house. She greeted Scott cheerfully, and invited him to sit down. As he went to sit down, suddenly the ground shook violently.

 

Cracks appeared on the surface of Hycane, widening until they were more then three meters long. And just as violently as they begun, the tremors stopped, leaving massive ravines in the ground. A chattering sound could be heard, as well as the sound of thousands of small feet. As darkness fell, shadows slipped out of the cracks, and onto Hycane.

 

*     *      *

Reilly was on his way home as cracks appeared in the ground around him. It was already dark, and as they widened, the sound of hundreds of feet coming forth from these newly formed natural features. Reilly readied himself in his Harvester. An ex-Hycane Defence Force pilot, Reilly knew he could fight off whatever came out of there.

*     *      *

Lily screamed as a huge insectoid creature broke through the door and roared, sending splinters everywhere. It looked at her with almost curious eyes, its antennae twitching as it stared at her. Scott walked into the room, and, much to Lily’s surprise, slowly bowed. “The great Rak have arrived” he muttered “and here is a worthy sacrifice”. He got up and pushed Lily forwards. Terrified, Lily allowed herself to be led outside and shuttled down one of the newly formed tunnels the Rak had now dug out. Huge feats of engineering though they were, Lily’s thoughts were interrupted as a scream punctuated the cold, night air. Obviously Scott hadn’t been worthy, she thought grimly.

*     *      *

Reilly dealt with the first creatures to come out of the hole, cleanly severing its head. He continued to do bring the aliens down with ruthless efficiency and with great skill, before no more of the creatures poured forth. Reilly put his bot into a spring, making a bee line for his house, killing any who stood in his way.

*     *      *

As day broke, the creatures retreated back to their homes; accustomed to the pitch black underground, they were unable to survive above ground during the day-yet.

*     *      *

Reilly reached his almost destroy home and whimpered. His wife was either captured or dead and the latter terrified him. He jumped out of the ‘bot and walked through his now shattered door. A groan filled his ears, and Reilly turned to see his bleed uncle lying amongst the rubble. “Where is she?” Reilly growled “Where is Lily?” Much to his surprise, Scott spat in Reilly’s face angrily. “The great Rak of Hycane have her now!” he roared happily. Reilly turned grimly, towards the door. Scott looked worried. “Are you just going to leave an uncle to die?” he asked, but Reilly was already out the door.

*     *      *

Lily sat terrified as one of the truly alien creatures circled her. She was alone, in a nearly lightless, small room, deep, deep underground. The alien stopped walking and stared at Lily with dark, beady eyes. Lily recoiled in horror as she felt an inhuman presence press against her mind, seemingly trying to force its way into her mind and gain entrance. Instinctively, Lily closed her mind off, doing all she could to block the intruder from getting in. She felt the alien battle against her defences, the walls almost buckling from the pressure. But Lily was a strong person, and would not be broken that easily. Suddenly, the alien relaxed the pressure, and led her into a large hall, where hundreds of Hycanians resided. She saw the alien lay a claw on another person, seemingly at random, and lead them back into the small room she had just left.

*     *      *

Ra growled to himself. He was the greatest torturer the Rak had at their disposal, and yet he had struggled to break even the, what he believed to be, the weakest of the batch. His thought process barely flickered as he hurled a mental equivalent of a spear at his unfortunate victim, taking no pleasure as the human’s mind was skewered, none of the defences the previous subject had demonstrated present. Odd, he thought, as he led the once proud man out as a blathering wreck. What allowed for one to resist, but no others?

*     *      *

Reilly opened the doors to his massive sold iron barn, and led his bot inside, closing the doors behind him angrily. He took a deep breath. He could not allow his uncle’s betrayal to interfere with what he planned to do during the night, in the safety of the nearly impenetrable barn. The turned the lights on, revealing a expansive arsenal that many military institutions would have been proud of. After retiring as a pilot, Reilly had smoothly transferred into the world of military technology. He was a natural, and quickly leapt up the ranks, achieving more in his short stint there then in his five years as a pilot. However, he quickly became disenchanted with the notion that his creations were killing people and breaking families. So, much to the Defence Force’s disdain, he resigned, many of his inventions mysteriously disappearing, unseen for many an year. Until now.

 

Reilly spent the night hard at work, ignoring the constant chattering outside. He attached all kinds of weapons, some prototypes, others proven warhorses. He worked all through the night, before collapsing from sheer exhaustion when his work was finally complete. The Harvester-‘bot was now battle ready

*     *      *

Lily sat alone, despite being surrounded by others. All sat in horror, terrified of their fate-each had their own personal battle to fight. Lily dreaded the time when she would once again be dragged into that room. She was the only one to have made it out of there with her mind intact, with some semblance of her former self, and she knew that the Rak, as she found out they were called, were determined for this not to be the case

*     *      *

Reilly activated the ‘bot, the contraption roaring in anticipation. The barn doors groaned as they opened, and from which Reilly sallied forth. It was midday, so none of the Rak were on the surface, all of them were hidden away underground. The huge tunnel lay open before him, a great dark opening in the earth. Reilly flicked a switch and massive flood lights flickered into action, piercing the almost palpable darkness. Reilly set his shoulders grimly and, as he tightened his grip on the robot’s controls, stepped into the darkness.

 

He advanced cautiously through the tunnel, weapons at the ready. The place was a labyrinth, tunnels branching off on all sides. Reilly had already lost track of how many turns he had taken, how far he had gone. It did not worry him however-he was single minded and determined. A scream echoed throughout the cavern, a human scream. Reilly was filled with hope and dread, the ‘bot’s legs pumping beneath him. So focused was he, that he didn’t hear the ominous scuttling around him.

 

*     *      *

Lily shivered, preparing for another mental blast to come her way. She had been picked up by the torturer, known as Ra, relatively soon after the first torture. However, this one was nowhere near as quick. She hadn’t slept for hours, having been forced to remain awake the entire night. Her mind was a quagmire, except for the looming walls which she strived to keep up. She had allowed for them to waver once before, only for an instant, but the Rak had seen the gap and pounced, gaining access for a moment, a scream unwillingly leaving her lips. Hope was beginning to leave her. She struggled to see a way out, a way to freedom. Sheer stubbornness allowed her to keep fighting. She had survived for this long; she didn’t want to die yet.

*     *      *

 

Ra threw all of his sizeable mental weight against the defences. It bent a little bit, but sprung back to solidarity as quickly as it had buckled. He growled in anger. On the surface, it looked like nothing more then a nuisance-a creature that he could break with two fingers. However, below the surface, the human had stronger defences then anything he had ever encountered. It worried him greatly, but he continued with his ruthless assault.

*     *      *

Reilly halted, recognizing the chattering. He halted, and turned around to see the countless aliens pouring from the walls around him. He activated his weapons and blasted them as they crawled along the wall, many falling as he did so. However, it seemed that no matter how quickly he fired, no matter how accurately, there were still many more to fill their place. As he readied his close combat weaponry, blasts from other gun flew past him, landing amongst the mass of aliens. Reilly turned to see some twenty men behind him, all with the word ‘RESISTANCE’ emblazoned onto their shoulder pads. Reilly saw ex-HDF faces amongst the group, including his old commander. “Rescue the girl!” he roared “and save as many as you can! We will hold them off”. He indicated behind him. “The main prison chamber is through there; send any prisoners back to us”. Reilly ran forwards, and with a gasp, entered the huge prison hall.

 

People ran past as yelled for everyone to go to the men of the RESISTANCE, and follow their instructions. Eager to escape, they ran in droves towards the exit. Reilly could not see Lily amongst them. Then, another scream filled his ears, Identical to the one he had heard earlier. He saw a small door at the end of the chamber, and hastily made his way towards it

*     *      *

The constant attacks had worn Lily down, until finally, the walls had collapsed, and Lily did not have the strength to rebuild it. She vaguely heard an explosion as something tore through the closely packed dirt. She felt herself lifted by cold, metallic hands. She saw her torturer’s head on the ground, its black eyes still staring at her. She remained in these metal hands for what seemed to be an eternity, before she was placed softly on a warm…’what were they called again?’ she wondered. Her heavy eyelids closed, before she fell into a deep slumber.

*     *      *

Reilly had remained at the bedside for three days now. Reports from the surface were grim, stating that the Rak were beginning to live on the surface, abandoning their underground complex. They had truly swapped places.

 

Lily had woken twice, however only briefly. She had appeared as only a shell of her former self, weakened mentally by the whole ordeal. He was wracked with guilt. Could he have arrived earlier? Could he have done more?

 

He had whole heartedly agreed to join the RESISTANCE. Operating from their underground fortress, they conducted small raids on the surface, mostly for food and materials for life underground. However, Reilly knew one thing deep down-Hycane would be reclaimed.

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The Crusade-Andrew Bartlett

The boom of an artillery shell echoed through the trench as the bombardment from the faceless enemy continued. They had been holed up in this position for well over a week now, trying to survive on barely sufficient rations of food and water. Sergeant James Reilly thought back to how he had even gotten involved in this goddamn hell hole. Told by his uppers that this was the next ‘Great Crusade’ to rid the world of terrorism, Reilly was still curious as to how it was worth leaving his home and family to come fight another man’s war.

This ‘Great Crusade’ was the second to sweep through the Middle East and was destined to be worse than the first. Fear and power do not mix well, and the United States of America had both. More horrific terrorist acts had taken place; many iconic buildings of the US had been brought to the ground, the Empire State Building the latest to go. Before long a new war was declared and the American people, dying for an opportunity for revenge, threw their support behind this newly declared Crusade. Men streamed into recruitment offices, eager to protect and serve their now ravaged actions. The cloak and dagger type attacks on the Al Qaeda were over. This was an old type of war reborn-war built of revenge, called without thought and would have unprecedented support from its people. America wanted blood.

 

At first, Reilly believed in the whole retribution mantra. He wanted to make them pay for his countries suffering and embarrassment. He was quite the patriot. But now, after more than a year away from his family, he was beginning to question the intelligence of his decision. Reilly had seen things, horrific terrible things that he had hoped that he would never have to see. It was not only the deaths of friends and fellow men that haunted him, but the terrifying circumstances under which they happened. Men dying slowly from irreversible wounds, some of them reduced to a bloody pulp within seconds of engaging with the enemy. One time such thoughts would have drained him, leaving him as nothing more than a shell, but this war had hardened him, made him a different man. What would have once brought tears to his eyes, barely even interrupted his chain of thought. He wasn’t fighting for America anymore; he was fighting for his mates that had died and his family.
However, Reilly knew that to voice such thoughts would result at nothing more than certain death. Not only would he die, but the blood thirsty warhounds he called ‘sir’ would track down his family and no doubt finish them as well. This, more than anything, kept Reilly facing in the right direction.

 

The explosion of another shell interrupted Reilly’s thoughts as the constant state of war continued around him. He heard the call echo down the line. Time to go over. He took a deep breath as he prepared to meet his fate. Reilly checked his gun, making sure everything was clean and ready for action. Huge helicopters flew overhead as the army was preparing for a make or break charge. The next few hours could change the fate of the war. The terrorist stronghold of Datta Khel was no more than two kilometres away, the centre of terrorist operations in the Middle East. But, as a primitive roar filled his ears, it wasn’t revenge that made Reilly throw himself over the top of the trench, but fear of what would happen if he didn’t.

 

Reilly’s legs pumped underneath him as he dashed across no man’s land, eyes fixated on the enemy’s ramshackle barricade as machine gun and rifle fire screamed through the air next to his hears. He shot the low wall down with a blast from his grenade launcher and with a primeval roar, unsheathed his broadsword and leaped into the maelstrom.
Reilly growled as a bullet nicked his shoulder, going through both muscle and bone as he whipped around, decapitating his unfortunate assailant. He hacked indiscriminately, fighting like an enraged bear with little care for bodily harm. Before too long, Reilly cleared the area of enemies, this part of the trench cleared of terrorists. Reilly ran down the ramp and, with an intake of breath, surveyed the vast array of tunnels that lay before him.

 

Reilly entered the catacombs as a bone shattering thud crashed down behind him. A psychotic voice slithered through the now dark space-“You thought that was hell, wait to you get a taste of this”, the madman cackled. Sergeant James Reilly steeled himself as he stepped into the suffocating gloom, prepared for the fight of his life.

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